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SOS Children's Villages

SOS Children's Villages are where we care for children who have lost parental care. In these supportive communities, children grow up in families and receive all they need to flourish. This model of alternative, family-based care has been developed over 60 years.

Boys running through a field with the Children's Village in the background
Children playing at SOS Children's Village Arusha, Tanzania

The best place for a child to grow up is usually with their parents and siblings. However, for children who have been orphaned or abandoned, alternative care is needed.

SOS Children works with local authorities to ensure each child who has lost their family receives the best care. This may mean that the child becomes part of an SOS family in an SOS Children's Village. In these special communities, children grow up in a nurturing environment with support tailored to their needs.

There are 565 Children's Villages across the world, home to almost 60,000 children. Find out where they are.

Did you know?

Many of our supporters choose the personal connection of child sponsorship. But if you prefer, you can sponsor a whole Children's Village and help every child growing up there to flourish. Find out more...

What are SOS Children's Villages?

Family members often look after children who have lost the care of their parents. But sometimes chronic poverty or diseases like HIV/AIDS mean relatives are unable to step in. When children have nobody to care for them, they can live in an SOS Children's Village. Here they receive:

Children wandering through the Village in Valle de Angeles, Honduras
Family homes at SOS Children's Village Valle de Angeles, Honduras
  • Care from an SOS mother, a dedicated woman from the local area who looks after a number of children.
  • An SOS family with boys and girls of different ages. Wherever possible, biological brothers and sisters stay together in one SOS family.
  • A family house built in the local style. In each Children's Village, there are about 10–15 houses offering loving homes.
  • A village community to grow up in, with a network of support from SOS mothers, SOS aunts and other staff.
  • Good education at SOS Nurseries and Schools or SOS-supported local schools. Quality healthcare at SOS Medical Centres, or state hospitals where appropriate.
  • Support until they are independent young adults. Older teenagers can live in shared housing called an SOS youth home. Here, SOS staff help them become self-sufficient, complete vocational training or higher education, and find work.

Find out more about life in a Children's Village.

Why do SOS families live in a Children's Village?

An SOS mother smiling with a boy and girlChildren living in SOS families often have difficult backgrounds and complex needs requiring personalised and professional support. When SOS families live together in a village, they are able to support one another and offer children comprehensive care.

SOS Children's Villages are integrated into the local area, offering services to families in the wider community and linking to other groups or bodies contributing to children's development.

How do we make sure Children's Villages always provide the best care?

An SOS family in AsiaWe believe that it takes a village to raise a child, but to us, a village is more than just bricks and mortar. We are always mindful of what is appropriate in different cultures and for individual children, and are constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of those we care for. In many parts of the world, the way Children's Villages look is changing.

In some places, Villages are integrated into towns and cities, with SOS families living in SOS-owned flats or houses. This means children can grow up closer to the boys and girls from the community around them. Elsewhere, we support foster parents, or help communities provide services for vulnerable children. Always, our priority is the best interests of the children we support.

Learn more about how our Villages are changing.

Leading the way in alternative care

Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children thumbnail

Since 1995, we have worked with the United Nations (UN) to help governments and organisations support children who have lost parental care, or are at risk of losing it. In 2009, we came together with other experts to draw up a set of UN guidelines for looking after children who cannot live with their families. It both reflects and informs the way we deliver care across our Children's Villages. You can read the pdf here.

We have also created a version that can be understood by everyone. You can read the child-friendly version here (pdf).

Get closer

Faith and Peter's story: A new life in SOS Children's Village Kitwe, Zambia

A girl stands in front of a tall sunflower

Faith and Peter are biological siblings whose lives were changed when they came to live at SOS Children's Village Kitwe, in Zambia.

As young children, Faith and Peter lived with their aunt, who was unable to take proper care of them. Aged just eight, Peter was left in charge of four-year-old Faith while their aunt went out to work. Faith was tiny for her age – malnourished, underweight and covered in open sores. She could not walk, talk, or even sit up unaided.

Social workers persuaded their aunt that it would be best to take the children to the Children's Village in Kitwe. When they arrived they were greeted by Grace, their new SOS mother.

After just a a few weeks, Faith began to put on weight and regained her appetite and energy. She learned to walk and soon to talk as well. Now in year two, Faith is at the same stage as her classmates. Peter is also thriving, and enjoying a playful childhood. No one would ever guess their early life story.

Would you like to get to know a child like Faith living in an SOS Children's Village? When you become a child sponsor, you get regular updates and photos of your sponsored child. Find out more about child sponsorship.

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With SOS Children, all sponsored children get a loving family, food, medical care and education from the charity.